Primary Source: Library of Congress Einsatzgruppen Case

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Primary Source:

My primary source is the trial transcripts from the Library Of Congress website, US v. Otto Ohlendorf et al (“Einsatzgruppen Case” p. 176 – 187).  https://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/Nuremberg_Indictments.html.

This document illustrates the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by twenty two individuals for the murder of over one million people, torture and other inhumane acts. The document is written in obvious legal jargon and is the official historical record of the crimes committed by the persons named in the document. These men were working under the direction of Heinrich Himmler who was the Reich Leader of the SS from 1929 – 1945. The defendants ordered the mass killings of civilian Jewish men, woman and children as well as political activists, Soviet Political Officials, Soviet Communists, and Romanian Gypsies. The most common form of the murders carried out in this indictment was through the use of firearms.

The acts, and conduct of the defendants set forth in this Count were committed unlawfully, willfully, and knowingly, and constitute violations of the law of nations, international conventions, general principles of criminal law as derived from the criminal laws of all civilized nations, the international penal laws of the countries in which such crimes were committed, and Article II of Control Council Law No. 10 (p. 185).

The creation of these documents was to preserve the historical record so that future generations could review and learn from them.

Secondary Source: Law Not War-Ben Ferencz’s Fight For Justice

Secondary Source Video:

In this 2014 video Ben Ferencz,  who was the youngest prosecutor from the Nuremberg Trials describes his vision for a peaceful future and the International Criminal Court to the students of Leiden Law School in The Netherlands.

Bias Opinion:

I agree with Ben Ferencz that the current system of war making is inhumane and cruel and must be stopped. Some politicians and people who have the power to change the current system of war making think the idea of settling things in a non-violent, non-military way is impossible. They said heart transplants were impossible but we do them today. They said space travel was impossible yet we have been to the moon and back. The fact of the matter is that there is a lot of money to be made on war – but Blood Money is Blood Money no matter how you look at it – and Human Life is so much more important than money. Humans are capable of great change. The way to change the current system of war making is through education and law. Heart Transplants did not happen overnight but we learned how to do them. Space Travel did not happen overnight and yet we are now bored with these things. Anything worthwhile takes time. I pray that one day we get bored with making war and finally get serious about world peace. Our Lives Depend On It.

Secondary Source:

In Emma Green’s article “The Last Man at Nuremberg: The life of 95-year-old Benjamin Ferencz, the only living prosecutor from the war-crime trials that followed the Holocaust”, she tells the story of the then twenty seven year old prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/05/the-last-man-at-nuremberg/361968/

He prosecuted case number nine, the Einsatzgruppen Case at the Nuremberg Trials. Einsatzgruppen means exterminators.

“Ferencz joined the forces that liberated a number of concentration camps in what was then Germany, including Buchenwald and Mauthausen. He collected documentation: the number of bodies, and where they were located; the sanitary conditions of the camps; the files left behind by army officials, including ledgers recording who had died, and when. It was this evidence that eventually led to the speedy conviction of the Einsatzgruppen commanders. “I was able to rest my case after two days without calling a single witness—the top-secret documents were indisputable,” Ferencz said (Green).

     The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum calls the Einsatzgruppen “mobile killing units”  http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005130. The Einsatzgruppen were also responsible for the elimination of thousands of mentally and physically disabled persons.

Shooting was the most common form of killing used by the Einsatzgruppen. Yet in the late summer of 1941, Heinrich Himmler, noting the psychological burden that mass shootings produced on his men, requested that a more convenient mode of killing be developed. The result was the gas van, a mobile gas chamber surmounted on the chassis of a cargo truck which employed carbon monoxide from the truck’s exhaust to kill its victims. Gas vans made their first appearance on the eastern front in late fall 1941, and were eventually utilized, along with shooting, to murder Jews and other victims in most areas where the Einsatzgruppen operated (http://www.ushmm.org/).

The lessons learned from all of this senseless madness are that we need to change. Ben told me once that the only way to stop atrocities such as this is to create laws to prevent it. He went on to help create the International Criminal Court. Simply put the ICC was created so that instead of sending young people to war for the purpose of killing people they never met we should let the politicians fight out their differences in a court of law, and let the young people live their lives, not die for the cause.

The International Criminal Court (ICC), governed by the Rome Statute, is the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.

The ICC is an independent international organization, and is not part of the United Nations system. Its seat is at The Hague in the Netherlands. Although the Court’s expenses are funded primarily by States Parties, it also receives voluntary contributions from governments, international organizations, individuals, corporations and other entities (www.icc-cpi.int). I feel that instead of funding war and the weapons needed to make war the United States and its Allies should include more funding for the ICC and its work in their budgets.

In the days of the old west two people would go outside draw their guns and fire; that’s murder. Ben told me war is murder, and murder in any form is illegal. We now have school shootings and church shootings; their killing people in movie theaters and concert halls. I don’t really know what the answer is but I agree with Ben that the old way just isn’t working. Maybe we should try it Ben’s way? He saw mass graves containing men, women and children. He saw bodies still burning in the crematoria. He closes his eyes and can see the images of hell as clearly as he saw them as a young man. Not a movie setting but the real hell created by mankind. He has seen things no person should ever have to witness and now we are seeing some of those horrors in our own streets today. No one should have to die because you don’t like the way they worship God or because they are a different race. I’d like to try it Ben’s way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learn From History Or Be Damned By It.

 

Churchill

Knowledge is Power! The Holocaust Museum encourages teaching students about the crimes of Nazi Germany as they happened so that it never repeated again.

The Holocaust provides one of the most effective subjects for examining basic moral issues. A structured inquiry into this history yields critical lessons for an investigation into human behavior. It also addresses one of the central mandates of education in the United States, which is to examine what it means to be a responsible citizen.

By studying these topics, students come to realize that:

  • Democratic institutions and values are not automatically sustained, but need to be appreciated, nurtured, and protected.
  • Silence and indifference to the suffering of others, or to the infringement of civil rights in any society, can—however unintentionally—perpetuate these problems.
  • The Holocaust was not an accident in history; it occurred because individuals, organizations, and governments made choices that not only legalized discrimination but also allowed prejudice, hatred, and ultimately mass murder to occur.

Studying the Holocaust also helps students to:

  • Understand the roots and ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping in any society.
  • Develop an awareness of the value of pluralism and an acceptance of diversity.
  • Explore the dangers of remaining silent, apathetic, and indifferent to the oppression of others.
  • Think about the use and abuse of power as well as the roles and responsibilities of individuals, organizations, and nations when confronted with civil rights violations and/or policies of genocide.
  • Understand how a modern nation can utilize its technological expertise and bureaucratic infrastructure to implement destructive policies ranging from social engineering to genocide.

As students gain insight into the many historical, social, religious, political, and economic factors that cumulatively resulted in the Holocaust, they gain awareness of the complexity of the subject and a perspective on how a convergence of factors can contribute to the disintegration of democratic values. Students come to understand that it is the responsibility of citizens in any society to learn to identify danger signals and to know when to react.

When you as an educator take the time to consider the rationale for your lessons on the Holocaust, you will be more likely to select content that speaks to your students’ interests and provides them with a clearer understanding of a complex history. Most students demonstrate a high level of interest in studying this history precisely because the subject raises questions of fairness, justice, individual identity, peer pressure, conformity, indifference, and obedience—issues that adolescents confront in their daily lives. Students are also affected by and challenged to comprehend the magnitude of the Holocaust; they are often particularly struck by the fact that so many people allowed this genocide to occur by failing either to resist or to protest.

Educators should avoid tailoring their Holocaust course or lesson in any way to the particular makeup of their student population. Failing to contextualize the groups targeted by the Nazis as well as the actions of those who resisted can result in the misunderstanding or trivializing of this history. Relevant connections for all learners often surface as the history is analyzed (http://www.ushmm.org/educators/teaching-about-the-holocaust/why-teach-about-the-holocaust).

WWI: TREATY OF VERSAILLES

Some people say that the Treaty of Versailles was the reason for Hitler’s rampage in WWII. The treaty was unfair in that the Germans were not allowed to make money and as a result the people were starving. Under the treaty Germany was not allowed to have a military force and they lost lands to their neighboring countries. Hitler felt that one of the reasons the Jews made money was because they only shopped in Jewish owned stores and because the Jews swore no alliance to Germany; their alliance was sworn to Israel.
Hitler had promised to restore the glory of Germany and because the German people were tired of the poverty they were living in they overlooked some of the more radical views Hitler and his Nazi party had.
TREATY OF VERSAILLES
Viewing Germany as the chief instigator of the conflict, the European Allied Powers decided to impose particularly stringent treaty obligations upon the defeated Germany. The Treaty of Versailles, presented for German leaders to sign on May 7, 1919, forced Germany to concede territories to Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. The Germans returned Alsace and Lorraine, annexed in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian War, to France. All German overseas colonies became League of Nation Mandates, and the city of Danzig, with its large ethnically German population, became a Free City. The treaty demanded demilitarization and occupation of the Rhineland, and special status for the Saarland under French control. Plebiscites were to determine the future of areas in northern Schleswig on the Danish-German frontier and parts of Upper Silesia on the border with Poland.

Perhaps the most humiliating portion of the treaty for defeated Germany was Article 231, commonly known as the “War Guilt Clause,” which forced the German nation to accept complete responsibility for initiating World War I. As such Germany was liable for all material damages, and France’s premier Georges Clemenceau particularly insisted on imposing enormous reparation payments. Aware that Germany would probably not be able to pay such a towering debt, Clemenceau and the French nevertheless greatly feared rapid German recovery and the initiation of a new war against France. Hence, the French sought in the postwar treaty to limit Germany’s potential to regain its economic superiority and to rearm. The German army was to be limited to 100,000 men, and conscription proscribed; the treaty restricted the Navy to vessels under 100,000 tons, with a ban on the acquisition or maintenance of a submarine fleet. Finally, Germany was forbidden to maintain an air force.
For the populations of the defeated powers—Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Bulgaria—the respective peace treaties appeared an unfair punishment, and their governments, whether democratic as in Germany or Austria, or authoritarian, in the case of Hungary and Bulgaria, quickly resorted to violating the military and financial terms of the accords. Efforts to revise and defy the more burdensome provisions of the peace became a key element in their respective foreign policies and proved a destabilizing factor in international politics.
The war guilt clause, its incumbent reparation payments, and the limitations on the German military were particularly onerous in the minds of most Germans, and revision of the Versailles Treaty represented one of the platforms that gave radical right wing parties in Germany, including Hitler’s Nazi Party, such credibility to mainstream voters in the 1920s and early 1930s. Promises to rearm, to reclaim German territory, particularly in the East, to re-militarize the Rhineland, and to regain prominence again among the European and world powers after such a humiliating defeat and peace, stoked ultra-nationalist sentiment and helped average voters to overlook the more radical tenets of Nazi ideology (http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005425).

 

The Death Toll: The Real Cost Of War

When you look at this grid I want you ask yourself if all of these lives were worth losing simply because the Germans did not like the Jews. This grid is just the military lives lost. Over 2,412,700 soldiers died because Hitler was prejudice against the Jews. Over 6 million Jews were murdered and Hundreds-of-Thousands of civilians also lost their lives.

 

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http://www.nationalww2museum.org/learn/education/for-students/ww2-history/ww2-by-the-numbers/world-wide-deaths.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/

Some other figures I found:

Korea – Over 54 Thousand Americans (Conservative Estimate)

Vietnam – Over One Hundred Thousand (Conservative Estimate)

Iraq – Over One Million People Estimated And Still Counting!

We Haven’t Learned a God Damn Thing Since WWII

So I ask you again, is it worth it?

References

 

(Library of Congress, 1946)
(Green, 2014)
(Holocaust Encyclopedia, 2015)
(About The Court: Internation Criminal Court, 2002)
(Why Teach About The Holocaust, 1993)
(Holocaust Encyclopedia Treaty of Versailles 1993)
(By The Numbers World Wide Deaths, 2000)